Saint Julien Wood is a section of forested land in Belgium, near Langemark at the north east of the Ypres Salient. During World War I, the location was known as 'Vancouver Corner'. Kitchener's Wood is close by. It is where one of the most infamous battles of World War I occurred from April 22 to April 24 1915 between the 5th, 8th, 10th and 15th Battalions of the 2nd Brigade of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and the German Army. The Canadian battalions were the first Allied Powers to experience a German chlorine gas attack, at the beginning of the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. Of 816 Canadian soldiers from 10th Battalion CEF, who were to the right of the British forces, 623 of them lay dead by the end of 23 April. They were buried where they fell.
Visible for miles around, the memorial stands 11 metres tall. It rises from a flagstoned terrace, carved to form the bowed head and shoulders of a Canadian soldier, his hands resting on his reversed rifle. It is surrounded by tall cedars trimmed into cones to complement the granite shaft. The memorial was unveiled on 8 July 1923 by the Duke of Connaught and the tribute was made by Marshal Foch, former supreme commander of the Allied Powers armed forces on the Western Front.
This is one of two Canadian National Memorials of the First World War: the other is the Vimy Memorial. They form part of a larger group of eight that mark significant battles by Canadians in the Great War. The others are the Passchendaele Memorial and Hill 62 Memorial in Belgium, the Le Quesnel Memorial, Dury Memorial, Courcelette Memorial and Bourlon Wood Memorial in France.